Volume 93, Issue 79

Wednesday, March 1, 2000


Federal budget questioned

The Shot Pool Pub faces final last call

Youth unemployment changes for the better

Funds for double cohort announced

Sex and education not a perfect match

New budget targets "brain-drain"



Caught on campus

Sex and education not a perfect match

By Tola Afolabi
Gazette Staff

Bookworms don't get much action, the results of a recently published study suggest.

Teens with non-average IQs were found to engage in less sexual intercourse, said Carolyn Halpern, assistant professor of maternal and child health at the University of North Carolina and the study's head researcher.

"Kids who scored well and kids who scored poorly are more likely to postpone sexual [intercourse]," she said.

The study, published in the March issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, involved two samples, Halpern said. The first, taken from the National Longitudinal Study of Health, involved 12,000 adolescents in Grades 7 and 8 and examined biosocial factors. She added a second, smaller sample studied the adolescents over two and three year periods.

"The study looked at how biological factors, such as hormonal changes of puberty, as well as social factors, such as child-rearing and going to church, contributed to the adolescent's development," she said.

The test subjects' IQs ranged from 60 to 130, she said. "It's a standardized test set up so that a score of 100 is an average score," she added.

Adolescents with low and average IQs were more likely to be involved with non-coitus sexual activity such as kissing and petting, Halpern noted. "Kids who scored higher were more likely to postpone [even these activities]."

Halpern cited concerns about the future as the main reason teens with higher IQs hold back on sexual activity. "They have expectations about future goals, occupations, and education," she said, adding they worry more about the consequences of sexual activity.

Although Halpern could not give a reason for lower accounts of sexual intercourse in below average IQ adolescents, she suggested parental protection played some role.

The study's results will aid sex education by shedding light on adolescents' thinking processes, Halpern said. "We don't really know very much about the decision-making process of adolescents," she said, explaining teenagers often react differently when in real situations.

Lee Zaslofsky, advocacy and media relations co-ordinator of the AIDS committee of Toronto, said he doubted the validity of the study and did not believe the findings to be significant.

"What is an IQ? Just assuming that IQ means something really important is the big question. That seems to be the biggest flaw in her study," he said.

David Wolfe, professor of psychology at Western, said he agreed IQ was not a significant factor. "IQ's just an estimate of reasoning ability. [It] doesn't tell us anything," he said, adding other factors, such as peer influence, affect a teen's sexual decisions.

Zaslofsky explained many factors, such as economic and class status, affect an IQ test. Different classes or groups take tests more seriously than others, he said. "Adolescents from low income families take tests less seriously," he said.

He added he failed to see how a connection between IQ and sexual activity would aid in education. "Sex education should empower youth to make their own decisions and stick to those decisions," Zaslofsky said.

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